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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Today's mishmash

This has been a crazy week with not a lot of time for thoughtful exposition, so here are few quick hits for today.

Gas prices [gulp!]
That crosstown commute for both my husband and me is a killer in these times of $3.45 for a gallon of gas. I stopped at BP on Mayfield and Coventry in Cleveland Heights today and the person just ahead of me had pumped $50 worth of gas. Not sure if I'm kidding myself or not, but when prices are that steep I find myself stopping at $20. Just. Can't. Spend. More. After all, maybe tomorrow prices will be lower.... Today $20 didn't even get me half a tank.

Citizen journalists can be heard on global issues and The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting want to here from citizen journalists. Gotta hurry though: The contest closes at midnight (EST) tonight; winners will be announced on March 25th. Here's the press release, which arrived today:
Andover, MA - March 12, 2008 -, a website devoted to publishing the writing of citizen journalists that receives 3 million unique visitors each month, and the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, a leader in international nonprofit journalism, are co-sponsoring the Global Issues/Citizen Voices Contest for citizen journalists. This contest is the first of its kind, providing writers with a platform to report on critical global issues while bridging the gap between traditional journalism and citizen journalism.

In just two months the Global Issues/Citizen Voices Contest has produced hundreds of articles. Helium members compete by writing to one of thirteen global crisis issues (each issue is associated with one of the Pulitzer Center's global projects and the corresponding coverage). Citizen journalists can research the issues at Pulitzer's website and then publish their own articles at Helium. Every article is sorted for quality by Helium's community of writers; after hundreds of anonymous ratings by Helium's community, quality content rises to the top. The Pulitzer Center will then pick from the top-ranked articles in each category.

"We've been truly impressed with the quantity and quality of the articles that have been submitted through Helium," said Jon Sawyer, executive director, Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. "The articles are proof that the public does care about these issues, and that 'public voices' have valuable insights to share.
Anniston Star salutes its letter writers
I just love this idea. I was at last year's banquet honoring the prolific writers of letters to the editor and thought it one of the finest examples of democracy in action. I wrote about it here.

One regular of our letter writers banquet, Willard A. McDonald of Ashland, was absent. Mr. McDonald passed away last week. He was 76.

His death inspired us to take a look back at his contributions to the newspaper. He was never shy about expressing his views, which usually landed between the right and the far right.

Of Bill Clinton he wrote, "No one since the founding of America has dragged us down in [greater] shame and disgrace." God had "blessed" Clay County by keeping it alcohol-free. The Star, in his view, was hopelessly misguided in its editorial positions.

The Star's editors always had room for Mr. McDonald's letters. The dirty secret is that we often like the critical letters more than the fan letters.

One by Mr. McDonald nicely summed up what we do and why. Our letters column, he wrote, fosters "freedom of both the press and the freedom of speech to their fullest."

That's our aim.

Angry journalists
Is this for real? Poynter had a piece in its e-newsletter earlier this week. The site is pathetic. If you're so freaking miserable, get out of the profession and do something else. Many of us left the suffocating newsroom malaise only to find life outside of the newsroom far more invigorating, though without the cushy benefits and buyout packages.

Feeling her pain
The former First Lady of New Jersey offers these words of sympathy for Silda Wall Spitzer and a cautionary note for the chattering classes.

Word of the day
vainglorious: marked by vainglory (excessive or ostentatious pride especially in one's achievements)

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